In 2018 Ventas extended it’s two-decade track record of sustained excellence. So said Ventas CEO Debra Cafaro on the firm’s Q4 earnings call. “We delivered positive total return to our shareholders, substantially outperforming both REIT index and the S&P 500. We increased our dividend, harvested proceeds from successful investments that we redeployed to enhance balance sheet strength and invest in future growth. We added selective premiere private pay assets to our portfolio and we built a high-quality research and innovation development pipeline exceeding $1.5 billion with leading research universities.”
Importantly, she said, the REIT also enhanced and expanded its relationships with key industry partners; Wexford, TMB, Ardent, Atria and Sunrise during the year, and crafted new “beneficial arrangements” with care providers, including Brookdale and ESL.
“In addition to achieving these strategic objectives, we also delivered on our financial goals. 2018 normalized FFO per share with $4.07 at the high end of our improved expectations on a best-in-class balance sheet. During the year, we were gratified that our team and our company were recognized repeatedly for our track record of our performance, our significant contributions to the industries where we have a major presence, and for our leadership in environmental, social and governance matters. Along the way, our Ventas team remained strong, smart, and unified. While I’d love to elaborate on our 2018 accomplishments, they are well described in today’s release. Instead, allow me to outline our expectations for 2019, highlight some of our key opportunities for the year, and describe our commitment to returning to growth.”
As for 2019, she said the company entered 2019 on a strong foundation. “We expect 2019 normalized FFO to range between $3.75 and $3.85 per share, assuming no acquisition activity. We also anticipate that our diversified portfolio will grow same-store cash net operating income year-over-year. We expect 2019 to be a pivot year in our transition back to growth following a multi-year period of strategic improvement in our portfolio quality and mix from the disposition and receipt of loan repayments totaling $8 billion. We used the proceeds of these transactions to substantially improve our portfolio and tenant mix and replace lower quality assets and tenants with high quality health systems and research and innovation properties with highly rated leading universities. While the specific timing of our return to growth following 2019 is difficult to predict, the building blocks are clear; deliver organic portfolio growth when senior housing operating conditions improve as other business lines continue to grow, capture the benefits of our research and innovation business and development pipeline, utilize our financial strength and flexibility, and reignite our long-standing history of completing successful accretive acquisitions.”